Report: Kentucky's Inflation-Adjusted Per-Pupil Funding Down Since '08

Feb 5, 2018

A liberal-leaning public policy group said Kentucky’s per-pupil spending on public education is lower than it was ten years ago once inflation is taken into account.

During his budget address last month, Governor Bevin promised to maintain per-pupil funding for the state’s K-12 students.

But a report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows that when inflation is taken into account, the amount of money spent by the state on a per-pupil basis has actually decreased by 16 percent since 2008. Ashley Spalding is a senior policy analyst with KCEP. She said claims that public school funding has been maintained are misleading.

“They are not adjusting for inflation. They’re not taking into consideration, that every year costs do go up,” Spalding said.

The report from KCEP also said the average Kentucky teacher’s salary has declined in all but five school districts between 2008 and 2017 when inflation is taken into account.

Spaulding said that makes it more difficult to attract and retain high-quality teachers. She said the declining state commitment to public education funding impacts some school districts more than others.

“The less that the state puts in, that impacts the poorer districts even more. Even with the same property tax increase they are not able to make up the difference,” she said.

Spalding said local districts are having to raise taxes in order to make up for the inflation-adjusted decline in state funding for schools. But she pointed out poorer school districts can levy the same property tax and not generate as much revenue as districts in wealthier areas.